A battle is resolved in a series of Combat rounds. During each round, both players follow the steps below:

1) Play a Combat card (optional).

2) Roll the dice for the Combat roll.

3) Roll the dice for the Leader re-roll.

4) Remove casualties.

5) Choose to Cease the attack or Retreat.

Each step is resolved simultaneously by the players (both perform step 1, both perform step 2, etc.).

Play a Combat Card

At the beginning of each Combat round, each player may play one Event card from his hand as a Combat card.

First, the attacker declares whether he wants to use a Combat card and chooses the card.

Then, the defender declares if he wants to use a Combat card and chooses the card. The defender may play a Combat card even if the attacker chooses not to.

Cards are chosen secretly, then revealed simultaneously. However, the back of the chosen card is always visible to the opponent.

It is important that each player carefully reads the text on his Combat card before choosing it, especially with respect to its requirements, modifiers, and application.

Unless otherwise specified, the effects of a card only apply for the current Combat round.

Combat cards are always discarded as soon as the Combat round is over.

Timing of Combat Cards

The text of a Combat card should establish with reasonable clarity when the effects of a card should be applied during the battle.

In the case of any uncertainty as to timing, the initiative number in the bottom left corner of the card indicates which card must be applied first: the card with the lower number is applied first.

Example: The Shadow player is the attacker and plays “Durin’s Bane,” which allows him to roll a special attack before the normal combat begins (Initiative: 2). The Free Peoples player has played “Scouts,” however, which allows him to retreat his Army before normal Combat begins (Initiative: 1). Since “Scouts” has a smaller number, it is resolved first and the Free Peoples Army retreats before the special attack of “Durin’s Bane” is possible. Both cards are then discarded.

If the two cards have the same initiative, the effects of the defender’s card are always applied first.

Note that if a Combat card has more than one effect (for example, the “Mûmakil” card), it has one initiative number for each effect with a different timing.

Requirements of Combat Cards

— Some Combat cards have specific requirements (indicated in boldface under the Combat title) that must be met for the card to be played. For example, some cards can be played only if friendly Elite units are involved in the battle.

— Many cards require a player to forfeit Leadership, which means that the selected figure (or figures) whose Leadership is forfeited does not count as a Leader (for the purpose of determining the Leadership rating) for that Combat round. You may not forfeit the Leadership of a figure, if that Leadership has been canceled for any reason.

Attack Rolls of Combat Cards

Some Combat cards allow an additional attack to be made, either before the Combat roll (step 2) or after the removal of casualties (step 4). Unless otherwise specified, these attacks use the same base hit number as the Combat roll. They are carried out in the same manner as the Combat roll, with three exceptions:

— A Leader re-roll is never applicable.

— Any modifier to the Combat roll granted by the opposing player’s Combat card does not apply.

— Any casualties are removed immediately, and they are not influenced by any effect of the opponent’s Combat card.

Roll the Dice for the Combat Roll

During this step, each player rolls a number of Combat dice equal to the Combat Strength of their respective Armies (up to a maximum of five dice).

Each die rolled scores a hit on a result of ‘5’ or ‘6.’ The effects of Combat cards, Strongholds, Cities, and Fortifications, however, may raise or lower the target number required to hit.

Roll the Dice for the Leader Re–roll

After the Combat roll, both players can re–roll a number of failed die rolls equal to their Leadership (up to a maximum of five dice).

The result required to score a hit on the Leader re–roll remains the same as the result required for the Combat roll (unless modified by a specific Combat card effect).

Example: A player has five Army units and three Leaders in a battle. His Combat Strength is thus 5 and his Leadership is 3. He rolls five dice as a Combat roll, getting ‘1,’ ‘3,’ ‘5,’ ‘5,’ ‘6’ (three hits). His Leadership is 3, but only two dice failed to hit, so he picks them up and rolls those two dice again. This time one die hits, for a grand total of four hits.

Modifiers to Rolls

Combat rolls and Leader re–rolls can be modified by cards or special abilities. Modifiers to rolls are indicated by “add one,” “add two,” and so on. The modifier is added to the result of each rolled die, and then the modified result is compared to the number needed to hit. Multiple modifiers are cumulative, so they must be added together to get the total modifier.

Example: If you add one to the dice in the Combat roll, the roll will score a hit on the result of a ‘4,’ ‘5,’ or ‘6’ rather than only ‘5’ or ‘6.’

Usually, Combat card effects will instruct a player to modify only the Combat roll, or the Leader re–roll, or both.

Note: A roll of a ‘1’ is always a miss, and a roll of a ‘6’ is always a hit, regardless of any modifiers.

Remove Casualties

After both players have completed their Combat roll and Leader re–roll, they remove their losses.

The number of hits the opponent scored determines the number of casualties that a player’s Army must take. The attacker decides first how to remove his units, and casualties are determined as follows:

For each hit scored by the opponent:

— remove one Regular unit, or

— replace one Elite unit with one Regular unit of the same Nation.

For every two hits, the player can remove casualties as above, twice, or can simply remove one Elite unit.

Example: A player has taken two hits. He can either remove two Regular units, or can replace two Elite units with two Regular ones, or can remove one Elite unit.

When replacing one Elite unit with a Regular one, the Regular unit can be taken from the previous casualties (if any). Otherwise, the player takes the replacement from the available reinforcements, if able. Any Elite units thus replaced by the Free Peoples player are placed among the casualties. If no Regular units are available in either the casualties or the reinforcements, the Elite unit cannot be replaced and is eliminated without further effect.

Free Peoples and Shadow Casualties

As described earlier, casualties taken among the Free Peoples units are placed aside and are considered out of the game. It is therefore important that casualties not be placed in the same area as the available Free Peoples reinforcements.

The Shadow player, on the other hand, does not have this problem, and his units are never out of the game. Shadow casualties may therefore be placed back with the available reinforcements.

Elimination of Leaders and Characters

If all the Army units involved in a battle are eliminated, then all Leaders (including Characters) that were part of that Army are also immediately removed from play.

Just like with Army casualties, Free Peoples Leaders are permanently out of the game. Nazgûl can still re–enter as reinforcements.

Characters (including all Shadow Minions — Saruman, the Mouth of Sauron and the Witch–king) that are eliminated are always permanently removed from the game unless their Character card specifies otherwise.

Note that Characters in a region without friendly Army units are never drawn into battle, as they can exist in a region that contains enemy Army units. Except as a result of certain Event card effects, Characters (Minions and Companions) are only vulnerable when accompanying a friendly Army in battle, and can therefore be deviously difficult to eliminate.

Choose to Cease the Attack, or Retreat

At the end of each Combat round, the attacking player has the option to cease the attack.

If the attacker chooses to continue the battle, however, then the defender has the option to retreat. If the defender declines to retreat, another Combat round is initiated.

If the attacking Army ceases its attack, then its surviving units simply remain where they were at the start of the battle.

If the defending player chooses to retreat, however, his entire Army must immediately retreat to an adjacent free region. If no such region is available, the defender cannot choose to retreat.

Special Exceptions:

— An Army defending a region that contains a friendly Stronghold may retreat into the Stronghold itself at the beginning of any Combat round by Retreating into a siege (see later).

— A besieged Army cannot retreat.

— If the retreating Army contains a Character of Level 0, that Character is left behind in the region.

End of Battle

A battle ends when the attacker ceases to fight, the defender retreats, or when one or both Armies are completely eliminated.

If the defending Army is eliminated or retreats, the attacker may immediately move all or part of the attacking Army into the embattled region.

If an embattled region invaded by a successful attacker contains an enemy Stronghold, and that Stronghold contains enemy units, the Stronghold becomes besieged.